$315 Million Public Schools Bonds Referendum on November Ballot

by Dave Emke September 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm 37 Comments

The ballot for November’s Virginia election in Fairfax County includes the question of the $315 million public schools bonds referendum.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted in July to advance to question to the ballot. Absentee voting begins Friday, Sept. 22. Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 7.

According to information provided by Fairfax County, the bond funding would be used to:

  • Plan and/or construct two new elementary schools
  • Relocate one modular building
  • Plan additions at three existing high schools (Madison, Stuart and West Potomac) to add capacity
  • Plan and/or construct renovations of 10 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools

One of the most expensive items on the list of projects to be funded is construction at Langston Hughes Middle School, for which more than $41 million would be budgeted. Another $1.3 million is on the list for planning renovations at Fox Mill Elementary School.

Click here for the full list of projects included.

The wording of the yes/no question is:

Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue capital improvement bonds in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $315,000,000 for the purposes of providing funds, in addition to funds from school bonds previously authorized, to finance, including reimbursement to the County for temporary financing for, the costs of school improvements, including acquiring, building, expanding and renovating properties, including new sites, new buildings or additions, renovations and improvements to existing buildings, and furnishings and equipment, for the Fairfax County public school system?

The sale of municipal bonds is a form of long-term borrowing that spreads the cost of major capital improvements over the years facilities are used. This method of financing ensures that current and future users help pay for the improvements. If approved, these bonds will probably be sold to large investment banking syndicates that will have to competitively bid for them. Once bought, they are typically resold to financial institutions, which then sell them to investors.

Also on the ballot will be the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates. To find your polling place, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Image courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

  • Mike M

    We will pay more taxes and pile on debt to accommodate the new development.

    • Kings English

      Exactly the opposite!

      We allow the people to decide whether in lieu of a new tax we will issue a bond.

      • The Constitutionalist

        Did you miss that part in accounting when they went over how bonds are paid?

        • Adrian Havill

          Of all county high school systems in the nation–and there are thousands–Fairfax County is ranked 5th. One of the reasons so many corporations want to locate here is the school system for the benefit of their employees. These companies, in turn, pay millions of dollars in taxes for both the schools and the quality of life. If you want to pay less taxes move to another state where the cost of living is low. Alabama comes to mind.

          • Greg


            Fairfax County doesn’t make the top 20 or 25 according to any of these lists (and there are more). Proof positive that more school funding (read: taxes) does not increase performance.




          • 40yearsinreston

            More fake news

          • Adrian Havill
          • Mike M

            I addressed this.

          • Mike M

            Absolutely left-wing fake news. Employers do not hang out here for the high schools. They stalk certain universities, but not high schools. There are many good reasons for this. Most of them common sense. They are here because of other factors:
            1) The heavily leveraged spending of the Federal government
            2) The heavily educated populace drawn here by point 1 above
            3) Proximity to national decision makers
            4) Proximity to the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast

            Also the schools are “rated” by biased institutions and individuals that reward schools that:
            1) Get a lot of money from taxpayers
            2) Waste money sending representatives to certain conferences
            3) Waste money in memberships of said organizations
            4) Set up programs based on the “papers” generated by and under those organizations and their members

            The US as a whole spends very highly per capita on education and does not get the results that a direct correlation and spending would deliver.

          • Adrian Havill

            1.I have another house in Florida and live there several months each winter.. 2. I spent 4 years in North Carolina, most of it with the 82nd Airborne Division. (No need for a “thank you for your service” homily.)

          • Mike M

            – I don’t generally thank people for their service. I served too and it was good for me and we both served at a lucky time.

            – You served ages ago in North Carolina. Your experience is 50 years old?

            – Typical. You have a house in Florida, so you vacation there. Would you like to pay more taxes for the schools?

            – Both Florida and North Carolina are purple states.

          • Adrian Havill

            1.FCPS are currently ranked in the top 3 percent in the nation by US News.. This is from 20,000 plus high schools in all 50 states. 2. Both of my children went to schools in this county from K thru 12. Both graduated from state universities. I have two grandchildren in Fairfax Schools, one in elementary, one in high school. I attend many school events and are very familiar with the education levels. My grandson’s first two 9th grade classes are geometry followed by programming. (BTW, my son, who graduated from a Va. state school, makes an obscene salary.) 3. Florida and N.C. both voted for Trump which makes them more red than purple. 4. I don’t “vacation” in Florida–that’s your conclusion. I live there five months a year which is living, not vacationing. And I lecture at a nearby university. As I own property there I assume part of those taxes goes to the county school system and am happy to pay it. I will be in North Carolina for a week in late September for several events.
            Finally, there are so false assumptions in your near daily rants that it’s better that I just ignore you

          • Mike M

            Yes. You’d best ignore me because I call you out.

            1. I addressed the ranking biases. You didn’t.
            2. Because you kids and grandkids go/went to FFX schools makes them better? Also you are conflating Va state schools with FFX schools. That is not responsive.
            3. You are obsessed with Trump’s win, sure. Most of you Libs are. But the world is much bigger and there are many other levels of political power and election. They are purple states. In fact, your Presidential candidate took North Carolina for granted, no?
            4. So, the question was do you want to pay MORE taxes for schools in Florida?

            You didn’t address half of my points and you demonstrated the falseness of none.

            Yes. You’d best ignore me because it tests the validity of your arrogance.

          • Adrian Havill

            Total deflection. The state legislatures of both Florida and NC are GOP as are the people they send to congress. 2. I’m not obsessed with anything and what is this “your candidate” business–you don’t know who I vote for.
            And as for rankings, let me help you out.

            And yes, my children who went to school here, are better. And I judge them not just on financial success but their social achievements all around.

            Do tell us about your progeny.

          • Greg

            Yet more of your fake news.

            If you want to delve more deeply into the ranking’s weaknesses, here is a small sample of the best criticisms over the past 15 years:

            An essay by Nicholas Thompson in The Washington Monthly, September, 2000.
            A report from the University of Florida’s Center for Measuring University Performance, 2002.
            An essay by Colin Diver, then president of Reed College, about the U.S. News rankings, his decision to withhold Reed’s participation in them, and the liberating consequences of that decision, in The Atlantic, November 2005.
            A report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, March 2009.
            An essay by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, February 2011.

            “The annual school system rankings by U.S. News & World Report are out today, and with their release will come a predictable round of excoriating assessments from journalists, college officials, and others. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson has called this annual chorus a “national carpfest.”

            From WaPo:


          • Adrian Havill

            Oh my. A 15 year old analysis. A 12-year old essay by Reed College on college rankings when we’re talking about high school rankings. And then you link a dated WAPO column by Valerie Strauss. Here’s the correct 2017 one . . .


            Now, back to the basement and
            take that bag of Cheetos with you.

          • Greg

            Focus. Once in your life. In this case, on the US news reviews.

            And the rest of your comment is boorish, rude, ignorant and deplorable. For shame.

          • Adrian Havill

            Did you find those words highlighted in a dictionary.?Surprised you didn’t use “fake news” again or go back to MAGA. Again, why are you using data that is more than a decade old? You have no credibility.

          • Greg

            The issues are timeless, and we’ve presented consistent statements and citations over almost 20 years. The rankings are biased and incredible.They still are today, including the one very biased report you cling to.

            And, of course, you lost focus again. “Progeny?” Such a pompous word.

            The issue is not on my children or your overpaid one(s). The issue is that the school system does not need more money. It has only declined year over year when it’s been given hundreds of millions of dollars year over year.

            The facts speak for themselves.

            And, your boorishness continues. Ad hominem attacks. For shame, Again.

          • Adrian Havill

            Answer the questions. Data that is more than a dozen years old is suspect. Comparing college rankings has nothing to do with anything when the subject is high schools. Document how you know my child is overpaid. Don’t understand the word, progeny and think it pompous. Sad and what’s pompous is using cliches like boorishness and ad hominem. For shame? Clutch those pearls!

          • Greg

            I’ve answered the questions. Several times.

            Go read them and grow up.

          • Adrian Havill

            Really? Give up or answer the questions.

          • The Constitutionalist

            The reason that so many corporations want to work here is for cost savings of being located in the Dulles Corridor and the proximity to DC. If you look at other corporate gigacenters, you’ll find that school ratings hardly, if at all, play any effect whatsoever on the corporation’s decision in their HQ location.

            Again, what the hell does that have to do with how bonds are paid?

          • Adrian Havill

            The reason corporations want to locate here and are already
            here is the proximity to the federal government and the quality of life this area offers their employees who they need to retain if they wish to continue to succeed. It is not cheap to live in Fairfax County but an educated employee wants superior public schools for his or her children, an abundance of diversity and tolerance, low crime rates, and cultural opportunities. Mild weather also comes into play.
            This area is not perfect, but is ahead of most of the country in these categories. Companies know this and is why most tech companies will not leave California despite its high taxes and multi-billion dollar inducements from low tax red states. There are dozens of similar areas that I could cite but you won’t find Fairfax companies moving to Prince William County anytime soon.

      • Mike M

        So, bonds are free money? Unfortunately, they are deferred taxes with interest. But yeah, too many Libs like you think they are NOT higher taxes. What I said was precisely true. We will pay more and pile up more debt to cover the costs incurred by development. This is a subsidy to the developers and the people who move into their properties. Do you NOT see the connection between bonds and taxes?

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Hey, FCPS. If you want more money, either cut back in other areas or get the BoS to allocate more money to you. However, as a voter and a taxpayer, the answer is “No”.

    • Fairfax Watcher

      GO Chuck!
      However, be careful about that BoS “giving” more cash to FCPS part as the BoS cash comes from our taxes!
      Cutting off & back is the true solution….it would be appropriate if the FCPS opened its books for last 10 years or so and show where our tax dollars have gone. The FCPS has NOT over the years had an audit!! Billions of dollars and no audit until recently………criminal —- maybe??

      • JoeInReston

        Not to say that there isn’t waste that couldn’t be trimmed, but this request is likely based on the additional head count that will result from the increased development.

        In this recent thread – https://www.restonnow.com/2017/09/13/two-dozen-sites-for-potential-added-residential-development-listed-in-zoning-ordinance-amendment-plan/ – Terry Maynard writes: “Reston 20/20’s estimate says together these changes would allow a more than tripling of Reston’s population.”

        I am not a big fan of the increased development outside the Metro areas, but if that is going to occur, than I do support additional for schools. The students have to be housed somewhere.

      • John Higgins

        Fairfax Watcher, your definition of “audit” needs some explanation so as to not mislead readers here. FCPS has, indeed, been subject to annual independent audits and the results of those reviews published. They are available online.

        • Fairfax Watcher

          Dear John, below is the WP article of 2014 which gives an insight into why my statement reads like it does. BOS AND Richmond have been pressing for over-sight into the FCPS spending of public monies. WHY they did not force this issue earlier is a puzzle that smells.

          Quote WP of March 24, 2014:
          “The Fairfax County School Board has hired a new audit manager tasked with helping the school system become more efficient with its $2.5 billion budget.

          On Thursday night, School Board Chair Ilryong Moon (At Large) announced
          that Chris Horton will serve as the audit manager within the office of
          internal audit.

          “His addition to the staff of the audit office
          will enable the School Board to expand our efforts to improve services
          and save tax dollars,” Moon said in a statement.

          The internal
          audit office is responsible for analyzing school operations and
          efficiency “through independent and objective analyses and evaluations,”
          reporting directly to the School Board’s audit committee, according to
          an FCPS statement.

          Moon said that creating the new audit manager
          position was in response to a long-held request by Fairfax County
          supervisors, who approve the school system budget annually.

          In February, a bill offered in the Virginia House of Delegates called on the Fairfax County School Board to establish a more independent auditing function akin to an inspector general, although the bill failed to garner support.
          Supervisors have said in the past that the School Board could expect
          more local funding if an independent auditor were overseeing how local
          tax dollars are being used in schools.

          Horton’s hiring marks the first of a series of changes
          to the schools’ auditing office. He previously served as the internal
          audit supervisor for the city of Denver and before that was a senior
          performance auditor in the Arizona office of the auditor general.” End of WP quote.
          THANKS to the Washington Post!

          • John Higgins

            Appreciate your follow-up. I knew you were not making it up, and I suspected that your source (WP) was simply sloppy in its language. An “independent auditor” [for many years it had been the highly respected KPMG] performs financial audits from a position of true independence. Most large organizations also have an “internal audit” office, more focused on performance management and investigations. I chuckle when I see it called independent. FCPS has had a series of internal auditors. Far from independent, they take direction from the school board and pleasing the board is key to continuation. Hence, the series of previous internal auditors.

        • Greg

          But this:

          Despite a school PR campaign to the contrary, the schools still have not correctly implemented an independent audit function.

  • Willie Reston

    People in this thread: “why is Reston/Fairfax approving all of this development without building additional schools?!” while also crying “why is Fairfax issuing AAA bonds to pay for school construction?! OVER MY DEAD BODY!”

    • The Constitutionalist

      Willie Reston: I’m super mad.

      • Adrian Havill

        Or super crazy.

    • Mike M

      Let me explain since I have a lot of experience explaining to you. People DON’T WANT the DEVELOPMENT because accommodating it will cost them money. There is no irony in that.

  • 40yearsinreston

    I’m voting NO
    get the developers to pay up


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